Hassles of Luggage…..

After a few weeks being back in Knoxville I left TN again the first of June 2011. I was so glad to be back on the road again. It seems its in my blood to travel. Even more so than I had originally thought. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to just be “going”, but didn’t have any idea how deep that ran within me. I have traveled with my kids their entire lives, but this is so different. The ability to change plans and go where I am drawn is just incredible.

One of the BIGGEST mistakes I made in the beginning was too much luggage. I’ve learned this lesson and am benefiting from learning it BEFORE leaving the USA.

When I Started the Journey 2011
Luggage I left Knoxville with June 2011. Colors don't match, but still a lot better...
Current Luggage!! Now I Match and Can Move About At Will....


There are many lessons I am learning. One of the main ones has been how little material things I need. This is beginning to sound like such a cliché in our society (and so few people really do it), but life is a lot more enjoyable the more we simplify.

I took several months before I began my current journey getting rid of almost everything I owned. I have roughly 15 boxes in a friend’s attic back in Tennessee, but the rest of my things are gone.

The first time I took a cruise with my family in 1996 we over packed even though I thought we had done so well. I heard from many seasoned cruisers on that trip that the trick most adhere to is to pack everything you “think” you might need about a week before the cruise. Two days later take out half of the stuff you packed. Two days after that reduce the remaining stuff by half and then the day before you leave do it once more. Still one will certainly still have too much stuff after all the reducing. The wisdom of that rule proved itself to me on later cruises.

Well I made the same mistake (even though I would have sworn I had mastered packing for trips) in April 2010. I took along so much more than I ever needed. And it caused a lot of issues. From the aches of pulling, dragging and hauling all this stuff to not being able to enjoy several last-minute opportunities because of luggage…

I rely on public transportation and ride shares to travel everywhere. I am a solo traveler without any help so this is the one area I have to be sensible and I sure wasn’t in the beginning. The thing is I THOUGHT I had really done so well. I was wrong.

After I was burglarized I got a new lesson in doing without for a bit. But since I lived with South Beach models for a few weeks I soon had more than enough clothes again. I’d made a decision that when I stopped back in Tennessee to see Marley and friends I would pack only a very small carry on and a day backpack. Ideally I would love to be able to travel with only a day pack. I doubt it will ever happen, but this is good too.

So when I flew out of Knoxville on my way to Denver I had no luggage that had to be checked in! It was wonderful to fly without that hassle included. Although when I went through security at the airport I was not happy that I they took my new toothpaste, lotion and conditioner I had bought but forgot that they would be carried on with me so I hadn’t thought to look into the size allowances. It was a small price to pay for all the advantages.

The backpack I left Knoxville with this year was the same one that has been with me since the beginning. My dear and special friend, Jessica Young, gave me hers. It is a UT-K college backpack. It has been through a lot with me. I got the pink carry on from my other great friend, Callie Spears.

For convenience and ease I was set. Aesthetically I was not. I do not like purple and red together nor do I like orange and pink together. Those that know me know if something is bugging me I get a bit obsessive about it. So having two of the things that have to be with me all the time such an awful mixture of colors drove me crazy.

It worked out that once in Denver a week apart both my backpack and then my carry-on broke from all the wear and tear. I replaced both in black. All was right with the luggage.

Lesson learned and action taken…

What a difference it makes having just two really small and light pieces of external stuff to take with me everywhere. I can get up and go when I have an opportunity I want to take. I can walk, get on buses and move around with no problems!

I pull behind me the carry-on (or lift when needed by the Velcro handle) with most of my clothes, the electrical plugs and toiletries inside. Then in the backpack I have a set of clothes, a spare pair of shoes, my netbook, camera, iPod, phone and beach reading. Plus it has a place for wallet and ID in the front pouch. When I am on the go I usually put the backpack on top of the carry on and secure it to the pull bar and just use the wheels.

It has been such better way to travel. I don’t think that I will ever get down to just the backpack as I would have liked, but this is definitely the next best thing.

Learning to Surf: Bucketlist item #38 CHECK…

My one and only surfing lesson…

Not often does someone know that the first time they ever try something will probably be their last. But I can assure you I am no surfer in the making. I am very proud of myself for trying and my instructors – Sierra and her boyfriend pro surfer Evan – are both awesome people, but it was a one shot deal. At the very least never to be attempted in the cold pacific ocean. Maybe in a non-wave warm Florida Gulf (hehe).

Anyway I  learned some of the lingo, of course there are many in TN who think I only speak California/surfer lingo, the day before. I learned it when we got to Seal Beach ready to surf and there was a yellow sign with a big black ball in the middle of it which apparently signifies no surfing allowed at that time. We originally were going to surf in Newport Beach, but there was a sewage spill and the waves were way to big for me in Huntington Beach.

I have to be honest I felt relieved. I had made the attempt and couldn’t help that I wasn’t allowed, right? So instead we had the Surfer’s Special at El Burrito Jr #2. It was delicious. Huge burritos and a drink for under $5. Melina was with us on this first day attempt although she was not able to go the following day when we tried again. So we just all sat in the sun with the ocean view and enjoyed our comfort food. Perfect!

The next day the kids came and got me about noon. After all the real surfers were done until evening. I thought this was a very smart idea. And we headed for Huntington Beach. I am actually glad that this is where we were able to get in the water finally because this is where I consider home.

First off learning how to put on a wet suit. Not a comfortable outfit by any means. Especially for someone who can’t even wear turtle necks, because I don’t like anything at all around my neck. It is a chore to get one of these on. But once it was on I think I looked quite cute. I know, I know it is for warmth not fashion! After the suits were put on by the Jeep we grabbed the board and headed to the ocean. Evan brought his dad’s long board. It is massive.

With camera in hand Evan was ready to take pictures of Sierra giving me a lesson on how to surf on the sand. I must admit I am a MUCH better couch and sand surfer than wave surfer. I caught on pretty quick if I do say so myself, which I do. I love the fluid motion of going from paddling to actually getting up on your knees then to your feet. It is so graceful. I love to watch real surfers do this. For me it is like watching poetry of motion. Nature and surfer working in sync.

After a few successful stands on the sand we, Sierra and I, headed into the water. I cannot believe how warm the wet suit kept me. Great! I really loved paddling out. I’m actually quite good at it too. After a few pictures, Evan got into the water too *he left my camera with a very nice family on the beach to watch*. He was behind me, but I was so busy paddling out and being proud of myself and feeling so good out there that I went way to far ahead of him and way to far out. That was my down fall.

Sierra came up behind me treading water. Evan got there too and began treading. He is not used to having to tread water as much and got very tired. Sierra is a swimmer so she was faring a bit better. She held the board while I was getting ready to catch a wave. I couldn’t really tell when a wave was coming so she was watching for me. The first one she said to go on I paddled with the wave then got up on my knees when she told me but was a bit to slow and miss the wave so I just rode that one on my knees.

Then the next one!!!! ACK! She again held the board and told me when to start paddling with the wave (mind you we are out a bit further than I needed to be). I paddled and got up when she told me to. I made it all the way to standing before the board went out from under me –  sideways. The board made it safely to shore within seconds. Me? Not so much.

I was thrown to the ocean bottom with my mouth open. When I finally, it seemed like an eternity, broke the top of the water and saw Sierra I couldn’t get a breath in at all. I kinda panicked. Here I have to say that Evan and Sierra were absolutely amazing. They were both encouraging and calm with me.

Evan later told me he didn’t realize at first how badly I was panicked until he saw my eyes. They swam on either side of me just talking me thru. At one point Evan reminded me that I needed to actually swim and not just tread water. And he demonstrated just to jar me. It was needed.

We laughed a lot about it later, but it seemed like I swam for miles when actually it was nowhere near that dramatic. Evan commented repeatedly how choppy the water was. Ends up there was a 5.4 earthquake in the area as I was “surfing”. Great timing, Stacy!!!

So after I was FINALLY back on land I sat my happy self down for a bit of reflection ( oh and to try to start breathing again ) and decided that I was proud of myself for trying. I have two great death fears in my life, well three cause I don’t much want to be tortured either, and they are fire and drowning. So, even though I have a fear of drowning, I tried to do something I’ve always admired others can do so gracefully….surf! GO ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seal Beach the Day Before

My day of surfing (the one and only day)...Huntington Beach

Next my trip up the coast of Cali…